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Bridge 2013 Brand
School’s Out Washington
Animated Logo & Typographic Branding 
Leading into the annual The Bridge From School to Afterschool and Back’s printed piece, the distinctive geometric identity and layered typography evolved from early discussions about how various spokes in a wheel all could function together as one whole. The brand, as it scaled down to smaller, more functional elements, became focused on readability and legibility, an issue for the wide diversity of age groups that attend the conference.

Bridge Conference Icon Development
School’s Out Washington
Vector Logo & Brand Identity

Every client today, whether they genuinely care or not, wants to make sure diversity is reflected in their brand, the easiest route being stock photography — buy a few grinning images, make sure white males make up a small portion, then tick the diversity box, sit back, and relax.

School’s Out Washington is a bit different in that diversity is always at the forefront, more than PR: their core mission and “The Bridge From School to Afterschool and Back” conference they put on annually holds as a primary concern the increased equality in services provided to the wide diversity of afterschool programs across Washington State, from Native reservations in the rural east to refugees in Seattle’s few remaining affordable apartments. The identity for this conference, in the 5 iterations presented (seen below), always kept at the forefront this meeting of diverse threads. SOWA ended up picking the third option, the simplest and boldest, showing the meeting of two abstract shapes — the arc of the bridge created in the negative space between them.

Amazon Surprise! Identity & Brand Book
Amazon Surprise!
Branding, Structuring, Writing, Organizing 

After designing 150+ greeting cards for Amazon’s Surprise! gifting app, Josh’s next one-man-band task was branding it. While many directions were explored, the jaunty present with a big bow seemed to match the tone of the arrow/smilie under the Amazon “a,” one of its primary jobs to simply fit in amidst a very large family of other sub-brands.

 Following guidelines set up for their other internal brand books, Josh developed a brief but dense set of guidelines, writing and structuring all the copy which described not just how to implement the core brand but how to develop new cards.

Ferrosi Branding
Outdoor Research
Logo & Typographic Exploration

Outdoor Research, as their name suggests, creates high performance gear for athletes and the athletically inclined whose sports take them to places like icy mountaintops. Their Ferrosi brand of lightweight apparel that holds up under extremely strenuous conditions — the name itself conjuring up iron and agility — found its visual voice in a feather/hammer F icon, the feather optically holding up surprisingly well at small sizes.

Branding Explorations
2015 WISH Qatar
Vector Iconography

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) needed a distinctive brand for its annual conference in Doha, Qatar, a city marked by unique and innovative architectural approaches but also holding a rich history of Islamic art. None of these were used but you can see in the video at right how the final brand evolved from these first iterations.

WRAP Icon Development
School’s Out Washington
Vector Logo & Brand Identity

The Washington Regional Afterschool Project (WRAP), a project funded by School’s Out Washington, focuses on providing resources to underfunded and underserved afterschool programs in various parts of Washington State, bringing unique plans and strategies to individual communities.

The 4 logos presented all emphasized different aspects of WRAP: the first below showed a metamorphosis into a complete student; the second a geometric cube playing on the idea of gifts and the name WRAP; the third, a focus on care and the soft edges of being human; and the fourth, which they chose to finalize as the actual logo, showed the dance of two threads coming together to make a coherent whole.

Various Brands
Vector Icons & Logotypes

What makes a good logo? Anyone who spouts off criteria based on aesthetics or visual elements is missing the point: great logos are created out of what makes a brand unique, out of their story, their heritage, their vision, their audaciousness.
That said, every designer veers towards and specializes in certain approaches. Josh’s approach tends to incorporate hand-derived elements, particularly letterforms, with distinct illustrative motifs when merited. They rarely employ the clean and simple approach that might go with the latest app or Apple-like product, in other words, but sometimes that’s the best solution. There’s lots of designers better at that sort of thing, though.

Josh Oakley has created entire brand systems, directing every visual element that a consumer or employee might touch, and he’s created logos for a single product or single use, which most of these examples for brands like Coca-Cola, MTV, Zumiez, and Jones Soda reflect. No matter what, the goal is to make your project stand out from the herd.

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